SAALT Joins Senator Cardin (D-MD), Leaders For Roundtable To Address “Muslim Bans”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

On March 20, 2017, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian civil rights organization, joined Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and organizational leaders for a roundtable discussion on the devastating impacts of President Trump’s “Muslim Bans” and the important judicial rulings that have stifled their enactment.

The nation continues to experience a blinding uptick in anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant hate violence, emboldened by the President’s virtually identical “Muslim Bans.” In two months our communities have experienced deadly shootings in Kansas and Washington State, arson and vandalism of mosques, businesses, and homes nationwide, and the heavy weight of fear and uncertainty experienced by our communities across the country.

Representing SAALT at the roundtable, Lakshmi Sridaran, Director of National Policy and Advocacy, noted, “There is an acute relationship between policies and rhetoric that criminalize Muslim, Arab, and South Asian American communities and the hate violence targeting these communities. While the judiciary doggedly blocks the President’s “Muslim Bans,” the damage continues to be done as each week uncovers a new inventory of victims of racially motivated attacks.”

The violence currently facing the nation is building on the toxic momentum of the 2016 presidential election. SAALT’s latest report, “Power, Pain, Potential,” documents over 200 instances of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric during this historically divisive election cycle, with 95% of incidents animated by anti-Muslim sentiment and 1 out of 5 xenophobic comments emanating from then-candidate Trump.

At the roundtable, Senator Cardin responded to SAALT’s findings and the uptick in hate violence nationwide, stating, “It starts with leadership. President Trump’s comments as a candidate and a President is just the opposite of what you need.”

The President has tried to strategically distance himself from his own campaign rhetoric over recent weeks in hopes of pushing through his “Muslim Ban 2.0,” but last week the Maryland Federal District Court wasn’t convinced. In its ruling U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang noted, “Significantly, the record also includes specific statements directly establishing that Trump intended to effectuate a partial Muslim ban by banning entry by citizens of specific predominantly Muslim countries deemed to be dangerous, as a means to avoid, for political reasons, an action explicitly directed at Muslims.”

2017 has been a banner year for hate. What we’ve learned in these short months is that words matter, words can be deadly, and words properly measured can be the key to justice. SAALT is listening.

CONTACT:  Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

SAALT Applauds Blocking of Muslim Ban 2.0, a Stimulus Package for Hate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian civil rights organization, applauds today’s ruling by a federal judge in Hawaii that blocked nationwide implementation of President Trump’s revised executive order set for tomorrow.

“Today’s ruling underscores that no one, not even a President, can green light discrimination and racism,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “Despite the administration’s legal gymnastics, the Muslim Ban 2.0 remains a stimulus package for hate that has already fanned the flames of fear, violence, and tragedy in our communities. We call upon the President to rescind this executive order in full and begin the work of healing our divided and wounded country.”

Violence against South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu communities has skyrocketed across the country in recent weeks, with numerous acts of hate occurring in the wake of the President’s announced Muslim Bans.

This February saw the deadly shooting of two Indian men in Kansas by a gunman screaming “get out of my country,” leaving one of the men dead and two nations in hysteria. Days later in Washington State, a Sikh man was shot in his driveway by a gunman reportedly yelling “go back to your country” before opening fire. Last week a Florida man tried to set fire to a convenience store owned by Indians in order to “run the Arabs out of our country.” In Oregon a man assaulted employees at a Middle Eastern restaurant with a pipe, calling them “terrorists” and screaming “get out of America” during the attack. Meanwhile, white supremacist groups continue to multiply nationwide.

In January SAALT released “Power, Pain, Potential,” a report documenting over 200 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric against South Asian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Arab, and Middle Eastern Americans during the 2016 elections. 95% of the incidents documented were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. President Trump was responsible for 21% of the xenophobic rhetoric we tracked.

In response to the ongoing and escalating threats to our communities, SAALT coordinated a vigil on March 10 to honor the victims of hate violence on the steps of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Speaking at the event were partner organizations and Members of Congress including Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA), Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY), and Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA), who took this moment to mourn the victims of hate violence and demand more accountability from President Trump. “One of the messages I want to send to people who are out there listening,” noted Congresswoman Jayapal, “is that America is your country, you belong here, and we will stand up to protect your rights.”

Today’s ruling declares that America has a place for and indeed welcomes us all, regardless of statements by xenophobic gunmen and the President. SAALT will continue demanding justice for our communities nationwide until all of our community members and their rights are protected.

Contact: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

SAALT, Partners, Members of Congress Hold Vigil on Hate Violence

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Today in Washington, D.C., South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian civil rights organization, along with partner organizations and Members of Congress, held a vigil on the steps of the Capitol to honor the victims of hate violence in South Asian, Sikh, Muslim, Hindu, and Arab communities nationwide. The vigil was a collective moment to mourn the injuries and loss of life our communities have suffered and to also demand just laws, policies, and leadership in response to increasing violence against our communities.

“At a time when South Asian, Sikh, Muslim, Hindu, and Arab community members are facing hate violence and harassment on nearly a daily basis, we need real leadership from Washington to stem the tide of injustice,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “Waiting nearly a week before commenting on a deadly shooting in Kansas won’t do it. Issuing a second toxic Muslim Ban won’t do it. We need direct action from this administration to forge inclusion, justice, and hope in this quintessential nation of immigrants. SAALT will continue fighting for laws and policies that light a path toward a just and inclusive future for us all.”

In recent weeks three Indian men and one Sikh man, either perceived as Muslim or as a result of anti-immigrant sentiment, were shot, with two of the victims ultimately dying of their injuries. In two of the cases the assailants screamed at their victims to leave the U.S. and go back to their countries before opening fire. The nation has also witnessed spikes in mosque burnings, vandalism, and an increasing wave of intimidation aimed at our communities nationwide.

This recent violence is part of a rising tide of hate targeting our communities. SAALT’s latest report, “Power, Pain, Potential,” documents over 200 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern Americans during the 2016 elections, with an astounding 95% of incidents motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. Notably President Trump was responsible for 21% of the xenophobic political rhetoric we tracked.

The President’s response to the attacks against our communities has been woefully inadequate. His dangerous rhetoric and destructive policies have fanned the flames of violence that we’ve experienced in recent weeks and months. SAALT calls upon the President to reverse course and lead our nation down a path of justice, inclusion and equality for all Americans. This is the moment for our nation to come together, and SAALT will continue to fight until our country has reached that important goal.

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Members of Congress who joined the vigil included Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA), Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY), and Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA).

Partner organizations include: American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Arab American Institute (AAI), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Desis Rising Up & Moving (DRUM), Indiaspora, MPowerChange, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), National Network For Arab American Communities (NNAAC), Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund (SALDEF), and Sikh Coalition.

Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY)
“I feel very strongly that there needs to be more love, more acceptance, more tolerance now in the United States than ever before, and I believe also that the violence we’ve seen taken against people who don’t necessarily look like me is something we all need to be concerned about. Whether you’re a South Asian, whether you’re a Muslim, whether you’re Jewish, whether you’re Christian, whether you’re Hindu, whether you’re Sikh, whether you’re Buddhist, it matters not. An attack against one is an attack against all of us. The attack in Kansas did send a shiver down my spine, because I know that this is something that unfortunately has developed because of hate rhetoric and hate speech that developed during the campaign and has continued afterwards. President Trump not only has to speak out against this, he has to take action against this as well and put resources out there to ensure the South Asian community in the United States is protected.”

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)
“This is a very important moment. I have tremendous sympathy and condolences for the families across the country who are dealing with hate crimes and who are literally suffering at home, sometimes in silence, unsure of whether they can go out or not. When we’ve seen spikes in hate crimes, it is incredibly important for Members of Congress, but most importantly for the President, to speak out against this kind of hate violence. But it doesn’t actually mean anything unless the policies follow that rhetoric, and that has been one of things that has been very troubling. One of the messages I want to send to people who are out there listening is that America is your country, you belong here, and we will stand up to protect your rights.”

Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA)
“These disturbing acts of violence not only attack our communities, they are an assault on all Americans. Attacking someone based on where they come from or what they look like insults the very core of everything that we stand for as a nation of immigrants. As a nation, we must stand up to these hateful attacks, which means doubling down on our commitments to safety, equality, and the American values of liberty and justice for all.”

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA)
“I have a fundamental belief in the goodness and decency of the American people. This is not a partisan issue. I have had Republicans and Democrats approach me on the floor appalled by some of the recent acts of violence. The country must stand together against hateful words and actions, and we must prosecute any hate crimes to the full extent of the law.”

Rajdeep Singh Jolly, Interim Managing Director of Programs, Sikh Coalition
“As we remember Srinivas Kuchibhotla and all those who have lost their lives and loved ones to hate, we demand that the White House create a federal task force to prevent hate violence. Words are not enough. We need accountability and action.”

Yolanda Rondon, Esq., Staff Attorney, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
“The courage of the Arab American community is unparalleled. Hate attempted to create fear but we discovered our strength. We will not be divided.”

Amrita Bamrah, SALDEF
“Today as we offer our thoughts and prayers to the victims of hate violence, SALDEF stands firm in its belief that the goodness of our communities will prevail over hate, and we reaffirm our commitment to standing up for the rights of all communities in Chardi Kala (everlasting optimism), without fear, and without hate.”

James Zogby, President, Arab American Institute
“Hate crimes are fundamentally different than other threats or acts of violence because they target entire communities, seeking to cause fear and intimidation. I know from personal experience when my office was fire-bombed, or when my life and that of my family and office colleagues was threatened because we were Arab Americans or because we advocated for Palestinian rights. The intent was to silence and intimidate us and to spread fear throughout our community. In this regard, hate crimes are a threat to our very democratic system. Those who incite and create a climate of intolerance towards groups or causes contribute to creating the environment from which haters spring. They are as much a threat as the perpetrators of hate crimes themselves.”

Robert S. McCaw, Director of Government Affairs Department, CAIR
“We are communities that are under attack, our houses of worship are being vandalized and burnt to the ground, our worshipers face death threats for attending their sacred spaces, and many are afraid to go out in the public. We cannot remain silent. We cannot as a country look the other way. This is real. This is happening. This cannot be ignored. We need assurance from our government that this will not continue to occur as it is without any foreseeable end. This is not the new normal. As a nation we cannot allow it to be.”

Contact: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

SAALT Statement Condemning Trump’s Muslim Ban 2.0

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian civil rights organization, strongly condemns President Trump’s revised and stubbornly racist Executive Order effectively banning Muslims, rejecting refugees, and expanding surveillance on Muslim-American communities under the guise of national security.

“In a twisted dance of trial and error, the President continues his dogged pursuit of a Muslim ban despite national outrage and a unanimous Ninth Circuit decision blocking enforcement of his original Order,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “No matter the legal gymnastics, this latest order is a thinly veiled assault on Muslims, immigrants, people of color, and the founding ideals of equality and freedom in the United States.

Today’s order targets immigration from six Muslim-majority countries deemed terrorism-prone, despite the Ninth Circuit pointing out that the government provided no evidence to justify this claim. The President’s original order curtailed rights, broke up families, denigrated Muslims and immigrant communities, and today’s order threatens to do the same. Carving out exceptions for some immigrants does not make this order any more acceptable.

“I’m here following through on what I pledged to do, that’s all I’m doing” noted President Trump in a recent press conference. This is indeed true. SAALT’s recent report, “Power, Pain, Potential,” documents over 200 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric against South Asian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Arab, and Middle Eastern Americans during the 2016 elections, with 94% of incidents motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment and President Trump responsible for 21% of the rhetoric we tracked.

Trump’s dangerous combination of rhetoric and policies has fanned the flames of violence, including the deadly February shooting of two Indian men in Kansas and this weekend’s shooting of a Sikh man in Kent, Washington. The assailants in both cases told the victims to leave the US and go back to their countries before opening fire. In the last seven weeks four mosques have been burned, numerous homes have been vandalized, and threats have routinely been made against our communities.

The fear, intimidation, and anxiety carried by millions in our communities everyday are the invisible wounds produced by this administration’s reckless policies that continue with today’s revised Executive Order. SAALT calls upon the President to immediately reverse course and end his campaign against Muslim and immigrant communities. It is time for the White House to set the tone for our nation and turn its back on poisonous rhetoric. It is time for our nation to begin to heal from the violence.

Contact:  Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

SAALT Responds to Tragic Kansas Shooting – This Country is for All of Us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian advocacy organization, is deeply disturbed by the deadly shooting of two South Asian men, Alok Madasani and Srinivas Kuchibhotla, in Kansas City that left one victim dead in what appears to be a hate crime.  Our thoughts and condolences go to the victims’ families and communities. Sadly, this latest act of violence comes as no surprise given the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim vitriol escalating across the country, most notably illustrated in President Trump’s divisive recent executive orders.

“This incident is the latest in a rising tide of hate violence against South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern and Arab communities, electrified by the President’s anti-immigrant policies,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “When our ‘so-called’ leaders attempt to govern from an angle of xenophobia, these sentiments embolden deadly violence against our communities.”

Witnesses reported the shooter yelled “get out of my country” and various racial slurs before opening fire, apparently believing his two victims were ‘Middle Eastern’. SAALT welcomes news that the FBI is investigating whether this incident was racially motivated and we insist that considerations of domestic terrorism are included in the investigation to address the problem of growing white supremacy across the country.

SAALT’s latest report, “Power, Pain, Potential,” documents over 200 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic rhetoric against our communities during the 2016 elections, with an astounding 95% of incidents motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. Regardless of the target, it is enough simply to be perceived as Muslim to be the victim of violence.

The President has yet to comment or offer his condolences to the victims’ families after this latest tragedy, consistent with his pattern of curious silence in the wake of hate violence incidents against many communities including Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and Jewish Americans. When tragedies charged with anti-immigrant sentiment occur on the heels of anti-immigrant executive orders by the President, we must demand better from our leaders. SAALT calls on the President to immediately denounce hate violence and rescind his recent anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim executive orders. We further encourage legislators at all levels to condemn this unacceptable violence.

Despite the venomous words of the shooter, there is a place in America for all of our communities, and we will fight fiercely for our rightful place within it.

Contact:  Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

SAALT Resolutely Objects to DHS Memos Creating Blueprint for Mass Deportations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian advocacy organization, resolutely objects to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) memoranda implementing President Trump’s executive orders on interior and border enforcement. We believe these memos further relegate South Asian and all immigrant communities to second-class citizenship, questioning our very place in the quintessential nation of immigrants.

These policies massively expand and accelerate detentions and deportations, trample upon due process by in many cases removing the requirement for hearings and convictions prior to deportation, deputize local law enforcement to serve as immigration enforcement authorities, and increase the profiling and targeting of immigrant communities already under siege in the wake of recent and controversial executive orders released by this administration.

“The scale of the President’s anti-immigrant policies is extreme, and the new administration appears hell-bent on targeting and demonizing immigrant communities through orders that actively undermine safety and public trust in law enforcement,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “Short-circuiting due process is not a crackdown on crime, but a crackdown on rights and our very founding values as a nation, and these measures must be opposed by all communities of color.”

The President’s policies deeply affect the South Asian American community, the most rapidly growing demographic group in the United States at over 4.3 million. The undocumented South Asian population has grown significantly in the US in recent decades. India is the country of origin with the greatest increase in unauthorized immigrants to the United States with a 914% increase since 1990. Currently there are 450,000 undocumented Indian-Americans in the US alone, making India the fourth-highest sending country for undocumented immigrants after Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

As documented in our recent report, “Power, Pain, Potential,” hate violence against our communities has skyrocketed to levels not seen since the backlash immediately after the events of 9/11. At a time when immigrant communities need to feel confident in engaging with local law enforcement to report such incidents, the President’s draconian policies will instead force vulnerable communities to turn inward based upon their fear of profiling and deportation at the hands of the authorities. Overall public safety will likely plunge as a result, as entire communities continue to lose trust in the very law enforcement professionals tasked with keeping them safe. As such, public safety does not increase, but instead cripples under the weight of these short-sighted anti-immigrant policies.

Our communities are at the crosshairs. SAALT will continue to fight for the core rights and protections for our communities at the national, state and local levels with our 55 community partners of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations. We will remain unbowed.

Contact:  Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

SAALT Endorses the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act (ERRPA)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian American advocacy organization, is proud to endorse the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act 2017 (ERRPA), a critical piece of legislation introduced today by Senator Ben Cardin that provides a comprehensive prohibition on profiling by law enforcement that is woefully missing from existing federal law enforcement policies.

“This has been a banner year for hate and we’re only in February, with successive waves of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant policies cracking at the notion of equality in our country,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “ERRPA acknowledges the dangerous climate of hate in the United States, the dehumanizing impact profiling has on our communities, and creates mechanisms that seek to protect the civil liberties of all Americans.”

If passed, ERRPA creates a uniform definition of racial profiling, including discriminatory profiling based on religion, ethnicity, or other protected categories, prohibited at all levels. ERRPA mandates training on racial profiling issues, authorizes grants to law enforcement agencies to implement best practices discouraging discriminatory profiling, and requires data collection by these agencies.

ERRPA comes in light of SAALT’s latest report, “Power, Pain, Potential,” which documents the disturbing increase in profiling, surveillance, and hate violence aimed at Muslim, Arab, and South Asian American communities during the 2016 election cycle, with levels rivaling the backlash in the year after 9/11. Issues of mistrust and accountability from law enforcement have plagued communities of color for decades, and particularly since 2001, when Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities have been unjustly targeted, profiled, and surveilled by law enforcement. This legislation is now more important than ever, as the Trump administration continues to embolden law enforcement to target and criminalize communities of color through divisive policies such as the Secure Communities program, as well as through destructive executive orders and cabinet appointments.

The trust deficit continues to grow between the public and law enforcement at a time when public confidence in policing is urgently needed. The passage of ERRPA can have a civilizing effect in our divided society by transforming our police from a force to a service and ensuring that all are equal under the law. In a month of wrong turns, this legislation is the course correction our country needs to uphold and protect the rights of all.

Contact:  Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

SAALT Vehemently Opposes Bill Limiting Legal Immigration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2017

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian American advocacy organization, vehemently opposes today’s bill introduced by Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) that aims to crackdown on legal immigration. The bill, named the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, would significantly reduce the number of immigrants who can obtain green cards and other visas and would cut the number of legal immigrants allowed in the United States by 40% in the first year and by 50% over a decade.

“This bill is clearly part of an undisguised and coordinated attack on immigrant communities,” stated Lakshmi Sridaran, Director National Policy and Advocacy at SAALT. “The draconian use of legislation and Executive Orders to criminalize and marginalize immigrant communities reveals the inherent xenophobia of this new administration.”

Numbering over 4.3 million, South Asians are the fastest growing demographic group in the United States, with the majority our communities foreign born. Senator Cotton’s bill will make reuniting families a draining if not impossible task for South Asian immigrants who already struggle under a woefully outdated immigration system that makes family reunification a burdensome task.

We implore Congress to support and not hinder immigration, to welcome refugees, to not cripple sanctuary cities, and to adopt an accurate and long view of our country’s history that sees immigrants as a fundamental aspect of American life.

Contact: Vivek Trivedi
vivek@saalt.org

Help us Fight Back Against the “Muslim Ban”

Dear Friend,

Last week’s Executive Orders were an affront to the ideals of equality and justice upon which our nation was founded. Building walls, banning Muslims, and crippling sanctuary cities are just a few of the devastating impacts of President Trump’s policies targeting our communities.

In response, we’ve seen an inspiring public pushback against these policies nationwide. It’s clear that the new administration feels the resistance. To keep the momentum going, below is a menu of actions you can take to demand justice for our communities across the country.

Take Action:

  • Use the link here to find your Member of Congress. Check here to see which Senators and Governors have taken a public stance against the Executive Orders and find a sample script on the “template for responses” tab of the document. Thank the Members of Congress who have publicly opposed the Orders and demand that those who remain silent or in support speak up in opposition!
  • Earlier this week Senator Feinstein submitted a bill to reverse the ‘Muslim ban’. While it didn’t advance, it will be introduced again and needs more support. Call this number to ask your Senators to pass this bill to reverse the ban: 1-855-976-1858.
  • Attend the National South Asian Summit on April 21-24 in Washington D.C., where SAALT will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of this important gathering of South Asian American organizations, activists, and individuals coming together to claim our power through collective action. To learn more and for information on registration, click here.

Educate Yourself:

  • Get familiar with the impact of the Executive Orders on our communities. Read and share these resources with your family and friends:
    • Read SAALT’s latest report, “Power, Pain, Potential” to learn about the disturbing levels of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric targeted at our communities during the 2016 presidential elections.
    • Take a look at these important general resources to find out what you can do to help today.
    • Go through this toolkit prepared by American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee to understand the Executive Orders, Jan 27, 2017.
    • Read through this fact sheet on the Executive Orders prepared by the Penn State Law Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic and Muslim Advocates, Jan. 27, 2017.

Demonstrate:

  • Join the numerous direct actions occurring all over the country. Here is a list of airport actions around the country that occurred this weekend or coming up soon.
  • Organize rallies and actions in support of local mosques on February 3, 2017. MPower Change can support your ideas for action.
  • Connect to members of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations in your state if you want to volunteer or join a rally.

Provide and Find Help:

Stay informed:

These small actions collectively can create large-scale change for our communities and country. SAALT stands ready as a resource and support for all. Contact us at info@saalt.org.

In partnership and with determination,
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)